Slugs and Snails

The bane of many growers, slugs and snails have long been ‘Enemy Number One’ to British gardens.

The combination of mild winters and wet weather is perfect conditions for these molluscs to thrive in. Seedlings and new growth in the spring are firm favourites to get targeted and chomped by our slimy residents.

What steps can you take to reduce the damage?

Pests and DiseasesSlugs and snails are highly prevalent all over the UK and you will never entirely eradicate them from your gardens, however there are many ways in which you can limit the effect of their appetites:

  • It’s good practice to avoid planting out seedlings until they are strong enough to survive the odd attack.
  • Protect vulnerable plants with cloches and sharp grits/sands or crushed eggshells around the bases to make them harder to get to.
  • Promote wildlife such as birds, frogs and hedgehogs in your garden, as these are natural predators.
  • Try a copper-based barrier method such as Growing Success Slug Tape or Agralan Strawberry and Hosta Mats which are said to give slugs and snails a small electric shock and send them elsewhere.

What about chemical methods?

By far the most common method of slug and snail control is the humble slug pellet. These are often misunderstood and incorrectly applied, leading to scare stories and unnecessary fear.

There are 2 common active ingredients in slug pellets – Metaldehyde and Ferric Phosphate.

Metaldehyde Ferric Phosphate Liquid Metaldehyde
  • Clean and easy to apply.
  • Usable around fruit and veg (as they are not applied directly and do not leach into soil).
  • Cheap and readily available.
  • Brands such as Scotts Slug Clear Advance contain animal repellents.
  • Clean and easy to apply.
  • Usable around fruit and veg (as they are not applied directly and do not leach into soil).
  • Much less toxic to wildlife
  • Growing Success Organic Slug Killer is certified for organic use.
  • Very effective for ornamentals
  • Scotts Slug Clear Liquid is recommended by professional gardeners
  • Application can be made directly into the ground, killing eggs too.
  • Wildlife cannot consume easily
  • Toxic to wildlife in large doses.
  • Many cheaper pellets are not rainproof.
  • Long-term effects on wildlife still unknown
  • More expensive than Metaldehyde-based pellets.
  • Not suitable for edibles
HOW TO APPLY Scatter loosely around vulnerable plants. DO NOT PUT IN PILES! There should be at least 6 inches between each pellet. Slugs will hunt these out so apply very sparingly. Scatter loosely around vulnerable plants. No need to pile up as this deters slugs/snails and makes pellets less effective. Mix the recommended dose in a watering can and apply evenly to the leaves of vulnerable ornamentals and in surrounding soil. Avoid soil to be planted with edibles.

Some further notes on Slug Pellets

When applied at the recommended rate, slug pellets are safe and highly effective. There are very few reported cases of animals dying from consuming slug pellets that have been applied according to manufacturers’ instructions. This is because Metaldehyde is generally only fatal when taken in large quantities – around a third of a 500g tube for a large sized dog.

Despite this, storage and handling of slug pellets should not be taken lightly – please ensure tubes of pellets are stored beyond reach of children and pets, and that pets are excluded from the area during application. Also good observation of pets is important, to ensure they are not ‘hunting out’ these foreign objects out of curiosity.

Pets and children MUST be seen by a physician immediately if you suspect any amount of slug pellets has been consumed.

Biological Control

If you’d prefer a more ‘natural’ approach to slug control, you can order a delivery of live natural parasitic nematodes, which will inhabit the soil and infect slugs, causing their deaths.

This parasite is already living in most UK gardens, so the treatment just serves to increase their numbers and tip the balance in favour of the nematodes. A treatment generally lasts around 6 weeks outdoors before the natural balance is restored.

Please enquire in-store for a leaflet and order form.

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